Monday, June 20, 2011

But for Wales....

Looking across the Pond to start the week, today in Cardiff brings the installation of George Stack, 65, as the Welsh capital's archbishop and the province's senior prelate.

Set to receive his pallium next week in Rome alongside four Americans and some 30 other newly-named archbishops from around the globe, the Irish-born nominee -- a former rector of Westminster Cathedral -- is the second Westminster auxiliary tapped to head one of the five metropolitan sees of England and Wales in just the last 18 months. (The other, of course, is the elegant, Oxford-bred Bernard Longley, 56, now archbishop of Birmingham, who ordained eight priests for the UK's groundbreaking Anglican ordinariate on Pentecost.)

Home to some 200,000 Catholics, the Welsh church encompasses just shy of 10 percent of the province's total population, a fold roughly as large as that of the resident Anglican branch (whose former head's since gone on to become the first non-English archbishop of Canterbury in nearly 800 years).

All that said, with an eye to the day, seems as good a time as any to run a longtime house favorite... a Welsh song that's been a great consolation and strength 'round these parts for many years -- the national hymn that doubles as a rugby anthem, sung here on the pitch... and led by the land's best-known export:

For the record, when was the last time you heard a hymn at a sporting event? (And, no, "Fly, Eagles, Fly" doesn't count.)

As the natives' singing habits were by no means a one-off, here's hoping Stack's delegation gives the Sistine choir a run for their money at next week's festivities.